Here’s a long report about the pipeline project, from Derek Farr writing for the Sublette Examiner. From the article:
In a house editorial by the Denver Post, the newspaper concluded RWSP was “an innovative notion that might bring a cease-fire in our water wars.” In other words, under the RWSP Colorado’s east slope can develop west-slope water without rankling western water users. For Colorado, that’s due to some fortuitous geography.
The Green River starts deep in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains before meandering 180 miles south and entering Utah at Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Below the Flaming Gorge dam, the river takes a left turn and loops through Colorado for 41 miles. Because the Green eventually flows into the Colorado River, the state of Colorado has a right to its water no matter how briefly the two coalesce. And because the Green’s sojourn into Colorado takes it through the remote regions of Browns Park and Dinosaur National Monument, few western Colorado water users are directly affected by a diversion. As western Colorado resistance has cooled, RWSP is garnering support in parts of eastern Wyoming. That’s because RWSP promises the City of Laramie 25,000 af of water. That’s not the state’s only internal division over the project. Gov. Freudenthal’s brother Steve Freudenthal, a Cheyenne lawyer, is helping develop the RWSP.
The prospect of being isolated between pro-RWSP Wyoming communities and impassive western Colorado water users has Sweetwater County Commissioner Paula Wonnacott concerned. She worries that the state’s voice will fracture over 25,000 af of water.
“They may see it as a boon for them,” she said. “But at the same time in southwest Wyoming were we have industry and create tax revenue for the state, we want to make sure that we have access to our water resources and we don’t want to do something to hinder those opportunities in the future.”
Accordingly, officials from Sweetwater County, Green River and Rock Springs are building a coalition against RWSP and opening dialog with the rest of the state. “I would really hate to not be able to engage the other elected groups in the eastern part of the state,” Wonnacott said. “We want to make sure we’re working with one voice.”
Households are flushing more organic material — including medicines and cleaning and personal care products — down the drain compared with historic data, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center (WRC), a June 3 university press release states.
The yearlong pilot study, completed by the university’s Water Resources Center Onsite Sewage Treatment Program team and the Colorado School of Mines, sampled the wastewater of 16 households in three states — Minnesota, Florida and Colorado — beginning in fall 2006. By adding mechanical diverters to the homes’ sewers, researchers were able to sample water seasonally and around the clock during a seven-day period for each home.
In addition to an increase in medicines and organic chemicals in the wastewater, researchers found caffeine in all samples that were tested; salicylic acid (the active compound in aspirin) was in about three-quarters of samples; ibuprofen in half; and detergent additives and plasticizers in more than three quarters. Researchers also found that water use did not vary from season to season, but was affected by the household’s age, with younger households using nearly twice the amount of water per person than households with occupants 55 and older.
Here’s a look at the plan to bank water rights in priority before the Colorado River Compact, from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit Daily News. From the article:
The Colorado River Water Conservation District and the Southwest District met in Durango last week to discuss details of the plan, which would put senior water rights into a bank where they could be tapped in case of such a compact call.
Water users with pre-1922 rights (those senior rights are not affected by a downstream call) would be compensated for offering their senior water rights to junior users for temporary critical uses like drinking water and firefighting. The temporary use would only be permitted if a compact call were in effect or imminent.
Under the 1922 interstate contract, Colorado is obligated to deliver an average of 7.5 million acre feet of Colorado River water downstream annually. In a worst-case scenario, Colorado water users could be forced to cut some of their existing uses if the downstream states demand their full allotment. Water rights established before the compact was signed are not subject to the agreement.
Most of the water rights available for such a bank are held by ranchers and farmers.
The Pueblo West Metropolitan District is scheduled to hear public comments Tuesday about the large water pipeline planned between Pueblo Reservoir and Colorado Springs. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at the district’s offices at 109 E. Industrial Blvd. Pueblo West plans to receive water from the pipeline, which is known as the Southern Delivery System. However, the district has balked at demands that it supply some replacement water to the Arkansas River to make up for what the pipeline will divert.